Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Took - Mary Downing Hahn

Summary: “Folks say Old Auntie takes a girl and keeps her fifty years—then lets her go and takes another one.”  Thirteen-year-old Daniel Anderson doesn’t believe Brody Mason’s crazy stories about the ghost witch who lives up on Brewster’s Hill with Bloody Bones, her man-eating razorback hog. He figures Brody’s probably just trying to scare him since he’s the new kid . . . a “stuck-up snot” from Connecticut. But Daniel’s seven-year-old sister Erica has become more and more withdrawn, talking to her lookalike doll. When she disappears into the woods one day, he knows something is terribly wrong. Did the witch strike? Has Erica been “took”? (picture and summary from goodreads.com)

My Review: Mary Downing Hahn is masterful at telling a creepy story.  Heck, she delights in it.  Seriously.  This is the sweet-looking little old lady who, when I met her a few years ago and told her that her book Wait Till Helen Comes scared the crap out of me as a kid, she stopped signing my book, looked up at me, and with this mischievous little smile said, "Good."

That being said, I agree with her and love scary stories.  I like the mystery and intrigue and overall spookiness, and Hahn manages to do it again and again.  So I really, thoroughly enjoyed Took.  It felt like I'd been dropped into an old urban legend or folk tale, with the creepy Auntie and her pet, Bloody Bones.  I'm always a sucker for a creepy monster and a good ghost story.

The story itself is a quick read, but well done.  The tale and suspense are built up at a good pace, giving us insight into the town, its people, and their belief in this old folk legend that lurks in everyone's subconscious.  The main character's family are the outsiders from the city and can't/won't understand the deep-rooted fears that are commonplace to those who have grown up with the tales of Auntie, which adds to the terror when strange things start to happen and stuff just can't be explained away by logic anymore.

It was cleverly told in an alternating way, between Daniel's point of view and Auntie's doings, her bits in particular adding to the intrigue.  I also love Daniel's determination to right his wrong and save his sister, even after knowing the true terror of Auntie and Bloody Bones.  It's a good coming of age story, a sibling story, and a ghost story all wrapped up in one.

My Rating: 4 Stars

For the sensitive reader: trigger warning for anyone who's lost a kid, as the little sister goes missing and the family sort of falls apart over it.  There's also the creepy Auntie and her pet that are good and spooky--so not for easily scared types.  And I forgot to mention the doll.  Dolls are always terrifying.

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